Professor Wendy Dagworthy, head of the RCA's fashion programme talks shop
"It’s been amazing to see so many young designers develop over the years. From my time teaching at Central St Martins, designers such as Clements Ribeiro, Hussein Chalayan and Giles Deacon. More recently at the RCA, it’s been fantastic to see graduates emerging from the college and showing almost immediately at London Fashion Week: Erdem, Holly Fulton, James Long, Astrid Andersen, Matthew Miller and Sophia Webster are just a few of the more recent designers.
There have been so many memories in particular that stand out over my time at the RCA. A stand-out moment from the graduate shows would be when milliner Justin Smith used a group of circus performers to model his hats, including a fat lady singing at the end!
[The RCA] is unique in that it’s a fairly small place compared to most universities. This makes it more sociable and fashion students tend to collaborate with students from other programmes, which we fully support and encourage. We have really good links with industry and students get the experience to take part in 'live' design projects as well as working with companies like Manolo Blahnik and Stephen Jones. I also think that once our students graduate they don’t forget their time here and they will often come back to teach or give lectures, so we have a really strong alumni network.
Innovation, individualism, considered detail and a strong research base is what I look for in a collection. This year, there is a really strong sense of texture coming through, especially with students using weave and collaborations with other textile students. There is quite a lot of black but with flashes of colour and metallic accents. Quite a few menswear students have been influenced by social and political issues. Knitwear students are experimenting with surfaces using metal, silicone and rubber. Footwear, accessories and millinery are quite futuristic and sculptural with unusual materials like concrete, glass and mirror. And womenswear students are inspired by strong, independent female characters.
It’s exciting to see a confidence amongst young designers in Britain today. They don’t seem daunted by starting out on their own which hopefully means they will stay here and British fashion can flourish. It’s really encouraging to see the rise in menswear design which I think will get bigger and better. The interest in London as a fashion city will continue to grow providing there is support from government, industry and organisations like the British Fashion Council."
The RCA graduate fashion shows take place at 4pm and 7pm on Wednesday 29th May at the Royal College of Art in Kensington. Buy your tickets here